When it comes to local, late-night sports shows, Utahns are most inclined to be “Talkin’ Sports.”
It’s a terrible title — and the apostrophe in the middle makes it worse — but sportscasters Dave Fox, David James and Adam Mikulich and the “Talkin’ Sports” team dominated the recently completed November sweeps on the weekends.
The Saturday-night edition averaged a 5.3 rating (up 9 percent from November 2011) to KSL-Channel 5’s 3.7 (steady year to year) for “SportsBeat.”
On Sunday nights, “Talkin’ Sports” was up 20 percent to a 4.9 rating while “SportsBeat” fell 38 percent to a 3.5. Those numbers represent a huge swing — Channel 5 led that time period by 27 percent a year ago; this November, Channel 2 led by 29 percent.
KSTU-Channel 13’s Sunday-night “Sports Page” was pretty much steady — down 1/10th of a point to a 2.3.
The “Talkin’ Sports” numbers are even more impressive if you look at the first half-hour on Sunday. From 10:30-11 p.m., Channel 2 averaged a 6.4 rating/13 share.
That translates into almost 60,000 homes. If you figure one viewer in each home (a ridiculously low estimate) that’s almost equal to a sold-out LaVell Edwards Stadium, the state’s largest sports venue. If you figure a second viewer in 10 percent of those homes, that exceeds the LES capacity.
It’s not like “Talkin’ Sports” dominates every time slot it’s in, however. There aren’t a whole lot of people watching the weeknight show, produced by the KUTV sports staff and airing on sister station KMYU at 10:35 p.m.
“But we’re building something,” said Kent Crawford, general manager of both stations.
As in building the “Talkin’ Sports” brand, which is doing so nicely on the weekends and as part of Channel 2’s top-rated late-night newscasts.
The weeknight “Talkin’ Sports” on KMYU-Channel 2.2 (Comcast Ch. 22, Dish Network Ch. 12, DirecTV Ch. 12) averaged a 0.6 rating and a 1.3 share during the recently completed November sweeps. That’s about 5,500 homes.
That’s not a lot, although KUTV is quick to point out that, again assuming only one person is watching in each of those 5,500 homes, that’s about the size of a Utah Grizzlies hockey or Weber State basketball crowd.
Still, it’s a weak sixth in the time slot, trailing everything from top-rated “Late Show with David Letterman” (approximately 43,600 homes) to fifth-place “How I Met Your Mother” repeats on KUCW-Channel 30 (14,800 homes).
“Sure, there’s a lot of room for growth,” said Crawford. “But we have had growth.”
The show’s 0.6 rating is up from a 0.5 a year ago, which is at least headed in the right direction.
And to look at it another way, “Talkin’ Sports” gets KMYU’s best numbers. Which speaks to the brand’s appeal.
It even got a 1.1 rating one night during the sweeps and a 1.4 — finishing ahead of “How I Met Your Mother” — on another night. Which speaks potential.
And, while nothing in TV is free, the show is produced by KUTV’s regular staff — another important factor.
There’s certainly something to be said for giving the viewers what they can’t get elsewhere. Monday to Friday, “Talkin’ Sports” is the only late-night, local sports show in town.
And maybe there is something about that terrible title that works.
Scott D. Pierce covers television for The Salt Lake Tribune. Email him at firstname.lastname@example.org; follow him on Twitter: @ScottDPierce.